Next-Door Mentor

Student activity from the article “Next-door Mentor” from the May/June 2009 Our Ohio magazine

Academic Content Standard
(Family and Consumer Sciences: Introductory Benchmark): Standard 4: Designing a Career Blueprint: Students will develop, implement and explore careers in the context of life choices and changing employment trends, societal needs and economic conditions.

(Note: Key terms used from Ohio’s Academic Content Standards are in bold below).

Discussion points

  • Read the article titled “Next-Door Mentor” in Our Ohio magazine or on-line.
  • At the age of 7, Ryan Miller found that he loved what profession?
  • Why did Ryan have to seek out a friend to observe and learn from rather than the more typical situation of a family member who teaches the next generation about farming?
  • Define: Mentor, Grain Farm, Financial undertaking
  • Why does Ryan say he liked to “hang around the farm?”
  • David Adams “took (Ryan) under his wing and served as a mentor.” Explain.
  • The article says that “farming is tough to get started.”  Why do you think this is the case?  Can’t anyone just start farming?
  • What type of formal education did Ryan pursue?
  • What, according to Ryan, is “one of the most rewarding things you can ever do?”  Is this attitude important in choosing a career?
  • According to the article, what are the two biggest financial difficulties facing a new farmer? (Factors affecting career choices)
  • How is Ryan Miller realizing his dream of becoming a farmer?
  • What makes farming a good career choice for Ryan? (Ryan’s interests and talents)
  • Does Dave Adams enjoy mentoring Ryan?  How can you tell?
  • Did Ryan’s formal education help him in his desire to farm?  How?

Hands on at Home or School

  • What types of classes could one take in high school to prepare for agriculture?
  • What majors would one enroll in at college to pursue agriculture or farming?
  • There are many types of educational opportunities. Explain how one learns career skills in the following ways? Military College apprenticeship Career education Technical education Entrepreneurship
  • Ryan recognized his interest and talents in farming at a young age. Do you have similar interests that will define your career path?
  • Take a look at the following site for career information: OCIS:
  • Take an inventory to identify your aptitudes:
    Aptitude tests:
  • Choose two careers. Find out the following information using the sites listed above: Education needed, Tasks involved, Salary expected, Times of work, Flexibility of schedule, Location of work, Employment Availability


How much money would 10 acres cost? (Ex. a 68-acre farm in Grove City, Ohio is listed for sale for over $500,000) What size is the typical farm in Ohio?

  • Economics: How much money does a used combine (machine to harvest crops) cost? lists a used combine for $213,000.
  • Do most people have enough money to purchase a combine? A combine and then the land to farm? How about a tractor, planter, combine, wagons and truck?
  • Can you see how farming is a financially difficult career to enter?

This student activity was prepared by Camille Kopczewski, who is coordinator of religious education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Grove City. She is a former sixth grade social studies teacher for South-Western City Schools. She has undergraduate and graduate degrees in education.